Portuguese Minister of Planning and Infrastructure Pedro Marques speaks at the inaugural ceremony of the first direct flight from China's Hangzhou to Portuguese capital Lisbon via Beijing, capital of China on July 26, 2017. The flight landed at the Humberto Delgado Airport, Lisbon on Wednesday. An air route between Hangzhou, Beijing and Lisbon was inaugurated Tuesday, the first direct flight connecting the capitals of China and Portugal. (Xinhua/Zhang Liyun)
LISBON, July 26 (Xinhua) -- An airbus A300 aircraft on its first direct flight from China's Hangzhou to the Portuguese capital via Beijing landed on Wednesday at Humberto Delgado airport after a 13-hour flight.
Portuguese minister of planning and infrastructure Pedro Marques said at a ceremony marking the event that the launching of the first direct flight route between the two countries had been the government's dream for many years.
He said he hoped the route would strengthen the role Portugal has been playing as a bridge between China and Portuguese-speaking countries.
Chinese Ambassador to Portugal Cai Run said in his speech that the direct flight path between China and Portugal was of great significance to the development of bilateral relations as it would promote economy, trade, investment, and tourism between the two countries.
Additionally, the opening of the route is more convenient for cooperation between China and Portuguese-speaking countries, he said.
Nearly 200,000 Chinese tourists came to Portugal last year.
A Portuguese family was busy with check-in for the aircraft's return flight from Lisbon to Beijing, also on Wednesday. Lona, a prosecutor in his late forties, told Xinhua that he and his family had a strong interest in China as it is a big and important country.
"As summer vacation is going on, my wife and I, together with my son and daughter, will visit Beijing and Tianjin for ten days. We want to see the world-famous Great Wall, the Forbidden City, and famous Olympic buildings like bird's nest and water cube," he said.
The first Hangzhou-Beijing-Lisbon flight was carried out by Beijing Capital Airlines. Both flights were 90 percent full. Currently, there are three flights per week and one more will be added in winter of this year.